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New KK Catholic Centre to be built on former primary school site

Artist impression of the new Catholic Centre to be built on former Shan Tao Primary School site, Jalan Sang Kancil Tiga Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – The new Catholic Centre of the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese will be built on a former Chinese primary school site adjacent to the Sacred Heart Cathedral here.

This was disclosed during the launching of the building project at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing on 22 July 2017.

The launching ceremony was officiated jointly by Archbishop John Wong and Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, the Malaysian Ambassador to the Holy See.

In presenting the project to some 160 people (priests, religious, commission and parish representatives, potential donors, press), Father Cosmas Lee, who has been tasked by Abp Wong to set up the steering committee in 2016, said that due to the substantial growth of the Catholic community over the past years, the new Catholic Centre would answer a long-felt need.

The new centre is necessary because the two buildings at the Catholic Diocesan Centre in Taman Hiburan Penampang have been declared unsafe after cracks were detected in several walls of the buildings.

The Catholic Diocesan Centre, built about 30 years ago, currently houses the Archbishop’s Office, the Archdiocesan Archives, the commission offices, Catholic Sabah, among others.

The new centre will be built on the site of the former Shan Tao Primary School which relocated to Kapayan Ridge in 2000.

The new centre will have two office blocks: a two-storey block housing a conference room, archives and gallery; and the other a three-storey structure for the offices, meeting rooms, a chapel, Catholic Sabah, conference facilities for seminars and training.

The buildings are a fusion of new and old language with heavy use of coloured glass panes on the exterior, designed pro-bono by Daniel Koh of ADK Architect.

In his presentation, Fr Lee commended the farsighted effort of Msgr August Wachter, the Prefect Apostolic of North Borneo then, in purchasing the Carmel Hill land and all the properties standing on it from Mr Yong Hoi for 10,000 North Borneo dollars.  On this nearly 11-acre piece of land, the Carmelite Monastery, the seminary, St Francis Convent Secondary School, Kung Min/ Shan Tao Primary School, have stood, all in the neighbourhood adjacent to the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

In 1996, when Fr Lee was the rector of the cathedral, he also intuited that some day the Catholic Centre would be built there as there was already definite news that Shan Tao Primary School would be relocating to Kapayan Ridge.

The site is ideal as it stands in a central and accessible location to everyone, bounded by Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman in the west, Jalan Menteri to the south and east, and Jalan Sang Kancil to the north.

However, Fr Lee said, the centre is part of a master plan for Carmel Hill.  The Carmelite Monastery will remain on top of the hill; the seminary with all its facilities and grounds has been earmarked for the Archdiocesan Youth Ministry when Initiation Year will join the Aspirancy at Taman Hiburan.  Next year when St Francis Convent Secondary will move to Bukit Padang, its buildings and grounds will be considered for other needs like hostels and facilities for live-in pastoral formation programmes.  All the buildings on Carmel Hill will be connected with each other and the cathedral by a network of roads.

Since the Catholic Centre is the need of all the faithful in the archdiocese, Fr Lee said the responsibility of realising it “has to be owned by each and every Catholic in the Archdiocese…each giving his utmost according to his utmost means in prayer, support, time, and money.”

As for fundraising, Fr Lee said: “With some expected aid from the Federal and State governments, perhaps some from non-Catholic individuals and bodies, and especially with the joined efforts of 21 parishes and over 200,000 Catholics, I just cannot see why we will fail to raise the needed RM9.6 million and a bit more when the building is fully furnished and equipped.”

Three committees have been set for the construction of the new Catholic Centre: Steering Committee under Dennis Ho; Building Committee under Anthony Lee; and Fundraising Committee under Willie Wong.

Donations/cheques are to be payable to RTDKK – The Catholic Centre Building Fund,  Maybank Berhad, Lintas Branch A/C No 510198683591.  Official receipts will be issued for all donations.  For details please contact 088-712297 (Ms Angela Yen, Mdm Cecilia Funk, or Mdm Teresa Chin).

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